First off I have to say I am a little anxious about writing this. We usually post about crafts, Pinterest stuff, recipes, and lighter topics in mothering. All of those things I am good at. I am competent, I might even go as far as to say I am somewhat of an expert. This however is out of my comfort zone. Really out of it. I am not even close to an expert on this. It is actually one of my worst nightmares. BUT I do think it is good advice and I want share because I know that reading other mother’s thoughts, ideas, and encouraging words is how I have learned and grown and so I want to share my thoughts with you.
Kids growing up is such a mixed bag of emotions. You are so happy for them to master new skills and learn new things but your heart hurts to watch the chub leaving their cheeks and baby fat growing off their bodies so quickly. So far each stage makes life easier in some ways and then harder in other ways. As I watch my first baby boy turn three I want to keep him in a bubble and protect him from everything in life that could possibly hurt him. At the same time, he has a fiercely independent spirit growing within him and I don’t want to squash it before he gets the chance to blossom and become the amazing man that he will be someday. There is a delicate balance, a tight rope, that every mother walks hoping that each decision we make to let our kids grow up, gain independence and live life doesn’t result in us (or infinitely worse, them) falling off the rope and getting hurt. I have been thinking about this a lot over the past year as he has gained the ability to get himself in much more trouble but still has the innocence to be completely ignorant to it. The beauty of childhood is the neurosis of motherhood!
What can I as a mom do to prepare him for things I never hope will happen? How do I wrap his mind around the world we live in without chipping away at his innocence? I want him to love and appreciate life not live life in fear of what could happen. In all of this I know that I am not the only mom with these worries so I am going to share some of the things that I have started to do in our home to hopefully empower my little guy should the worst happen. As a disclaimer, I am no certified expert on this, I am just a mom who loves and wants the best for her kids. These are thoughts and ideas I have has along with tidbits I have found along the way that focus on empowering your child with knowledge and skills for good decision making.
We all know it can take one second for a child to get separated from you and “lost.” It is not necessarily the product of bad parenting but could happen to anyoneWe have all had moments where we look up and panic stikes deep in our gut as we don’t immediately see our child. How do we help our son understand what he should do if he can’t find mommy or daddy? I am not sure where I came across this tidbit of advice but for me it immediately clicked and is the main reason I wanted to share this post with you. I can actually see this working if he was to get lost. The first thing we want our child to do in this situation is find another mommy with kids and tell her he is lost or can’t find his mommy. We had originally taught Micah all about how a police man could always help him if he is in trouble, but in reality what are the chances of my two year old finding a police man the moment he is lost? Probably slim to none. First, by telling him to find another mommy with kids he can remember that. It is on his level of understanding. Just as important, he is less likely to be scared to approach a mommy and since if he did get separated from us he would be very out of sorts so comfortable and familiar are the best things I can imagine for the situation. Another mommy is the least intimidating thing I can imagine outside of another kid to my little guy. The biggest benefit here though is that by sending them to another mom you are almost undoubtedly sending them to someone who will help them the right way. That mom will most likely do everything in her power to reunite the two of you and would probably be the least likely person to cause them harm. When a child is lost even the most outgoing spirit will be very scared so you want them to know what to do and for it to be as simple and familiar as possible so they will act instead of breaking down.
Between the ages of 2-3 years we have seen a great leap in Micah’s ability to understand numbers and letters and words. We have tried to use this in a number of ways. Much as you play the game with children of “what sound does a cow make?” and they respond “moo,” we do the same type thing with what is mommy’s name (Kimber), what is daddy’s name (Brad), what is your last name etc. We think if he is ever lost it will help him be found and not fall into the hands of wrong person if he knows these things. We also talk about where he lives (city and street) and are working on house number and mommy’s phone number. This is obviously more advanced and he doesn’t know them 100% but we are getting closer. We don’t scare him or tell him stories about getting lost or other people trying to take him, but we just make it a fun game to engrain in him information that could be useful to him in an emergency.
Other little things also lay the foundation for your young child to understand who is there to help them and who is a “friend,” as we call them. Every time we see a police man or car, a fire man or truck, or an ambulance pass by we take the opportunity to talk about it. We talk about how these people are there to help others. If you need help you can always talk to one of these people. We also have bedtime books that talk about these types of people and the many things they do to help. I think familiarity helps children so that if there is an emergency they know who to trust or who to seek. Most local fire stations will do free tours for your family or group if you call them and schedule it. Not only is it a great experience and fun time for little ones but it helps them understand emergencies better and what to do as well as familiarizing them with someone who can help them. At our tour we talked about calling 911, stop drop and roll, and not touching or playing with things that are hot to name a few. Then we were able to go home and reinforce these ideas as we see the opportunities throughout each day. Some of the ideas such as calling 911 are probably a little advanced for my 2 year old but laying a foundation never hurts because I never cease to be amazed on what he picks up on and can do each new day.
Life is never simple and I pray every night we will not need to use these skills. Hopefully though, the small steps we take will empower our little ones and keep them little as much as keep them safe. I want us to live life fully, knowing that we are doing the best for our family. I know this post only scratches the surface… I have a few ideas, but for more information on a wide variety of topics centered around children’s safety including a whole section on street smarts visit the Kids Health website. Also, we have other advice on what to do if a stranger approached your child here. What other tips do you use with your kids to help them know what to do in an emergency? Let us know in the comments!